The comedy-podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We’re here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows, and each one has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional and the noteworthy. Each week, our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.
Aack Cast!- Aackt 2: Who Is Cathy Guisewite?
Jamie Loftus, the lofty comedian known for The Bechdel Cast and My Year in Mensa, has a lot in common with Cathy Guisewite. Except instead of a relatively small group of self-important brainiacs in Mensa, Cathy had the whole world misunderstanding her — for decades, and to this day. After the first episode of this miniseries recontextualized the long-running comic strip and laid out in no uncertain terms how Cathy (the character) grew and progressed, which is often surprising, episode two sees Jamie in a one-on-one interview with Cathy (the creator) intermixed with charming talk-show appearances, dramatizations of the comic, and biographical context. It begins to paint the picture of a lost icon in American humor, whose groundbreaking point of view has been unfairly eclipsed by its shallow cultural interpretation and unrelenting marketing campaign. Thankfully our world is often more forgiving than the one Guisewite slogged through for nearly 40 years, and Cathy deserves this second look from Jamie’s capable eyes. —Noah Jacobs
Las Culuristas - “Speaking of Hailee Steinfeld…” (with guest host Joel Kim Booster)
Who makes a good last-minute guest host? Apparently, if Joel Kim Booster is any proof, someone who popped a melatonin 15 minutes prior to being asked. When usual co-host Bowen Yang has technical difficulties in the Dominican Republic, co-host Matt Rogers calls upon his once-co-host of everyone’s favorite Legally Blonde: The Musical: The Search for Elle Woods recap podcast. Perhaps Booster’s melatonin is to thank for the profound poetry he spouts throughout; from “San Diego is the Florida of the West Coast” to an impassioned “Who is repping Rachel McAdams?” to thinking of “L.A. as the sixth borough of New York,” it’s clear why this ultraspecial guest earns a Las Culturistas Icon Award during the episode. This culture catch-up starts with their Pride weekends and Housewives and veers into vital conversation around today’s prestige and would-be-prestige actresses. (What a revelation that we are living in the Hailee Steinfeld era!) Rogers also impromptu interviews Booster about how he got the idea for his upcoming film, Fire Island, and I swear you’ll want to run to a Redbox and rent Pride and Prejudice like it’s 2005. Booster’s pinch-hitting is heroic, and the return of “Cousin of the Week” is monumental, whatever it means. —Anna Marr
Food 4 Thot - X Marxs the Thot
Hosted by Denne Michele, Joseph Osmundson, Tommy Pico, and Fran Tirado, Food 4 Thot sees the multiracial mix of queer writers talk about “sex, relationships, race, identity, what [they] like to read and who [they] like to read.” The title is, of course, a pun, and a fitting one for a group of self-proclaimed thotties who can discuss anything and everything, no matter how serious, with a scintillating sense of humor. This week they take on “the biggest enemy of all — capitalism!” The equal parts wise and witty discussion leads Osmundson to ask, “How do you navigate the fact that there’s no healthy way to earn money … given that nothing’s good?” Bookended with sexy, silly segments “Amuse-bouche” and “Dessert,” Food 4 Thot provides a space where critical thinking and comic relief can coalesce into a perfect podcast. —Becca James
The Downside With Gianmarco Soresi - Gatekeeping Dads with Ashley Ray
Anyone who is very online can tell you that it’s hard to predict what exactly will inspire the ire of the Twitterverse. As comedian Ashley Ray-Harris explains on this week’s episode of The Downside, co-hosted by Gianmarco Soresi and Russell Daniels, one of those things is jokes about your own dead father. Luckily, Soresi’s podcast, which welcomes negativity, misery, and rock-bottom stories, is a warmer audience for Ray’s dead-dad jokes than her reply guys. Of course, there is much to be said about an internet culture where nuance is so undervalued, and quick reactions overvalued, that someone might be tone-policed for jokes about their own personal tragedy. Still, the episode avoids trite takes on “cancel culture” and lets Ray shine instead. Together, Soresi, Daniels, and Ray not only find an unlikely but incredibly funny theater-camp connection, they find the sweet spot between funny and sad. —Kriska Desir
I Love a Lifetime Movie - Fran Drescher & Cast on The Christmas Setup
During the pandemic, a couple of comedian friends — Naomi Ekperigin and Megan Gailey — turned their fixation on movies made for the Lifetime channel into a podcast. I Love a Lifetime Movie normally looks at stories of the murder and/or stalking variety, but they’ve taken a break to enjoy 2020’s The Christmas Setup in the middle of summer. Refreshingly, it’s the first holiday movie from the channel that features not only a gay romance at the center of the plot, but with the two male characters that fall in love being portrayed by real-life married couple Ben Lewis and Blake Lee. To add even more fabulosity to the proceedings, the mother of Lewis’s character is played by Fran Drescher. “That’s the greatest mother of all time – I wish I had her!” says co-host Ekperigin. They take listeners through the plot of the entire film, complete with sound bites from the movie (helped, no doubt, by the fact this podcast is produced by Lifetime …). But the kicker is that, after discussing the film, the hosts jump online for a face-to-Zoom chat with Drescher and the two leads in the film. If you’re a fan of frothy and fun made-for-TV Christmas movies, this episode is just the kind of cool refreshment you need in the dog days of summer. —Marc Hershon
Other Podcasts We’re Listening To:
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